|Tuesday, a 17-inch wax doll, photograph courtesy of Mama Jo's House of Dolls|
The thought of owning Tuesday, the doll shown above, dates back to 2012 when I stumbled upon Mama Jo's House of Dolls on Facebook. The Facebook page and Ruby Lane shop of the same name belong to Jo Maeder*. Jo is author of When I Married My Mother. Jo's book is a candid account of her re-established relationship with her elderly, doll-loving mother and the events that led to Jo's inheritance of 700+ dolls. Tuesday is one of the 700.
|Close-up of Tuesday reveals facial cracks that did not diminish my desire to own her. The cracks, in my opinion, add character. Photo courtesy of Mama Jo's House of Dolls|
After seeing Tuesday's Facebook photo, I contacted Jo to inquire about her. "She'll be my first wax doll," I thought, a medium I had longed to own in black-doll form. Tuesday's height, whether or not she was for sale, and at what price were some of my unanswered questions. Jo answered that Tuesday was not for sale, explaining how very special she was to her.
Tuesday was made by renowned doll artist, Gladys MacDowell, who made dolls from the 1940s through the 1970s. She was a member of the National Institute of Doll Artists (NIADA) and member of the Dollology Club of Washington. Prior to making wax dolls, MacDowell made hundreds of cloth dolls according to her profile in the 1977 book, The American Doll Artist Volume I by Helen Bullard. The profile reveals MacDowell's inspiration to make her first wax dolls occurred after she attended a Panamanian Carnival in Panama City where she and her family resided for four years beginning in 1947. At that carnival, she saw a group of authentically costumed Panamanian dolls and decided to make some herself using beeswax found among her husband's radio parts.
As a seasoned doll collector, [MacDowell] had many acquaintances in the field, and soon she was being asked to make wax dolls for numerous collections. Even more anxious were the owners of battered antique wax dolls who asked her to restore their darlings, if not to pristine beauty, then to some acceptable fraction thereof... Among her clients [were] many museums, a testament to her expertise in dollmaking and restoration.
MacDowell is unable to put together a catalog of all the dolls she has made since the Panamanian family in 1947... Almost everyone was a child doll, usually a portrait, and most often one of a kind.
A United Federation of Doll Clubs first prize ribbon-wearing Tuesday is shown on page 120 of Bullard's book. Tuesday's caption reads: Little girl in wax. Portrait.
Gladys MacDowell was Jo Maeder's maternal great-aunt, which is understandably the reason Tuesday is so special to Jo.
Understanding this, however, did not prevent me from viewing Tuesday's Facebook photo from time to time and continuing to appreciate the 1950s little girl innocence that MacDowell had been able to capture in three-dimensional form. Gazing at her picture, I often wondered what little girl served as Tuesday's inspiration after the family's return to the States, which is when Tuesday was made based on the handwritten "1959" that appears on her back. Gladys' son, Robert MacDowell and Jo both shared that Gladys named the doll Tuesday because she had the idea to make her on a Tuesday.
|Photo courtesy of Mama Jo's House of Dolls|
Eventually I pinned Tuesday's photo to my Pinterest board: Beautiful Black Doll Sightings because to me she is beautiful and my desire to own her continued.
In January 2013, I saw a photo posted on Facebook of a group of dolls from the December 2012 Gaithersburg Doll Show. Included in the group photo was another Tuesday! This one was dressed in a red floral print dress. I tracked down the owner to see if she was willing to part with Tuesday. Of course she was not. I shared the link to the image with Jo, who until then did not realize other Tuesdays existed. She asked her cousin if he knew how many Tuesdays Gladys made. His answer was possibly 10. With this additional information I felt there was hope in finding one for myself.
In November of 2013, Jo informed me of another Tuesday and a male companion that were in another seller's Ruby Lane shop. "Could this be true?" I thought, after seeing the two dolls listed together. The boy was interesting, but I only wanted Tuesday. I wrote the seller and asked if she would be interested in selling Tuesday to me. Her logical preference, unfortunately, was to keep them together.
|Tuesday and her companion (brother) from another Ruby Lane seller|
The dolls remained together in that listing, unsold at the seller's original asking price until March of 2014 when a drastic reduction in price was made and I placed the pair in a four-month layaway. Finally, I had found my Tuesday and as an added plus, her brother, too!
Tuesday and her brother have been "home" finally for a little over a week. I recontacted Jo with additional questions regarding Tuesday's history before sitting down to write this post. I wanted to be certain all historical facts were accurate. Jo graciously shared additional information along with her Cousin Robert's email address. In addition to contacting Robert, I wrote the seller to obtain any additional information she could provide that was not included in her Ruby Lane description. Her only addition was they were purchased on eBay a few years ago from someone who she believed lived in California.
In the seller's description, the male doll was also attributed to Gladys MacDowell. After I shared their photos with MacDowell's son Robert, he wrote:
I'm pretty sure that 'Tuesday' was created while we lived in Virginia after 1950.
The other doll is not her work. She had a friend who made some dolls in the rough style, but I'm rather sure the other one was made by Ms. I.V. Roberts.
I googled her name and discovered that I. V. Roberts was also a NIADA member.
Brother's origin remains a mystery because unlike Tuesday, he is unmarked. Was he a collaboration between the two artists or did MacDowell in fact make him? Is he a one of a kind? These are some of my unanswered questions about him.
I believe Brother, whose name is now Cal (an acronym for three special young men in my life), and my Tuesday were created at the same time, by whom remains a mystery.
What I do know for sure is that my Tuesday is labeled #1, which indicates she is the first one MacDowell made. She was made during the 1950s for someone named Marie Mae Schwartz, as illustrated by her handwritten shoulder plate markings that extend onto her brown cloth back:
|My Tuesday's handwritten marks identify her as the first Tuesday made and for whom she was made.|
|Tuesday has six squared-off braids of human hair.|
|Poor Cal has some missing hair plugs and rather prominent cheeks.|
|The "u" in Tuesday's bracelet is upside down. The snug fit prevents flipping it over.|
What I also know for sure is that I am happy to have finally found my Tuesday! She and the bonus companion were well worth the wait.
*Jo Maeder is also author of When Opposites Attack.